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Doctors call for General Medical Council chief executive to step down

12:45 pm, 28th August 2018

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) union says Charlie Massey may never restore the confidence of the medical profession if he continues to lead the GMC.

The backlash follows a case concerning Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of Jack Adcock in 2015.

Jack had died from sepsis at Leicester Royal Infirmary back in 2011, but the paediatrician won her bid to be reinstated to the GMC at the Court of Appeal earlier this month.

Many doctors are angry because important issues raised by the case – such as dangerous levels of understaffing, failures of IT systems and staff working in inappropriate conditions – had been ignored.

The HCSA says it has raised several specific concerns about Mr Massey’s conduct, including what it describes as his personal decision – without reference to the GMC council – to seek to override the findings of its own tribunal service in the case involving Dr Bawa-Garba.

A tribunal ruled in June last year that she should remain on the medical register despite her conviction, but issued a one-year suspension.

The GMC then took the case to the High Court to appeal against the sanction – saying it was “not sufficient” – and Dr Bawa-Garba was struck off in January, before being reinstated two weeks ago.

HCSA executive member Dr John West believes Mr Massey should no longer continue in role, labelling him as “the main architect” of the “disastrous episode”.

He said: “This is not a conclusion we have come to lightly, particularly given the tragedy of young Jack Adcock’s death and the distress his family have already gone through, but the fact remains that the chief executive’s personal fingerprints are all over a case which has seen doctors’ confidence in the GMC collapse.

“The level of distrust and anger that we are seeing among hospital doctors has prompted begrudging apologies and a review into the laws surrounding such cases.

“Yet at no point has the chief executive of the GMC taken personal responsibility for his actions.

“Indeed, we continue to await an acknowledgement that he was incorrect to seek to overturn the considered view of his own medical professional tribunal.

“While there are wider cultural issues about the GMC’s treatment of doctors facing complaints, the gross mishandling of this specific case, including the decision to launch a renewed personal attack on the integrity of Dr Bawa-Garba as part of the GMC’s defence in the Appeal Court, appears to be the sole responsibility of Charlie Massey.

“It now seems that the GMC will only be able to draw a line under this disastrous episode via the departure of its main architect.”

A spokesman for the GMC said: “We recognise the anger felt by many doctors about this case.

“As an independent regulator responsible for protecting patient safety, we are frequently called upon to make difficult decisions, and we do not take that responsibility lightly.

“We have fully accepted the Court of Appeal’s judgment, in what was a complex and unusual case.”